Here’s the question of the month: Yanni or Laurel?
If you have no idea what I’m referring to, chances are you’re probably not taking your social media intravenously and useless time wasters aren’t part of your internet algorithm. And if you’ve debated this question for more than ten minutes in the past month, then you might need to get a life (and yet here I am, writing about it). If you need to catch up on this question, click here.
There are a few reasons why different people hear different names when they listen to this sound byte. One of these is that we each have selective listening. In other words, we hear what we want to hear, and with a little bit of priming, we’re likely to hear either Yanni or Laurel, rather than bzzgrrphmlgk.
I bring this up because I think many of us struggle with selective listening of a different kind. This auditory challenge occurs more at the heart level – it’s a spiritual kind of listening. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve discovered that I have a tremendous capacity to tune out God’s voice. At times, I’ve turned the volume way down on God because I was afraid of what he was going to ask me. There have been other times when I completely ignored his divine nudging, preferring to live in denial.
In the Bible, listening to God involves more than just hearing him. It means to both hear and obey. It means receiving God’s commands, internalizing them, and then acting on them. It means being faithful in keeping his covenant.
In the days of Gideon, Israel stopped listening to God, and because of this, it led to seven years of trouble with the Midianites (Judges 6:6). Many of us have learned, sometimes the hard way, that one of the clearest ways to make a mess of life is to stop listening to God. Conversely, the way to experience abundant life is to keep listening to God. God has plans to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future. He just asks us to listen to him.
And yet, for some reason, we choose not to listen. We decide that Yanni sounds way better than Laurel. We become selective listeners who filter out everything except what we want to hear.
Here’s something I’ve found to be true: when God wants you to grow, he tells you something uncomfortable. But we don’t like leaving our comfort zones. We’d prefer an easy god. A safe god. A god who won’t cramp our style, who doesn’t swim upstream. A god who looks a whole lot like us and satisfies the itching inside of our ears (2 Tim. 4:3).
So what about you…are you a selective listener? What if you instead became a surrendered listener?
This is a rewind to one of my recent teaching messages at Crosspoint Church. You can hear the full message here.